Legal Disclaimer: Greetings! It's another "Gifts of the Avatars"! Hope you like it!! :) The Rangers don't belong to me, they belong to Saban :)

Strength of the Earth
by: Cynthia

"So you're telling me that these . . .Avatars. . .are the living forces of nature, and they're passing their powers on to other people, to fight this. . .Dark Avatar?" Zack stared at his friends. Billy, Trini, and Kim all nodded.

"That's about it," Kim told him. "And once all five of them have given their power to the next generation, then the new Avatars go on to fight the Dark One."

Billy shivered in memory of the times he'd seen that one face to face. "And it won't be an easy fight, either. Avatars can't kill each other, you see. We're going to have to restrain him somehow."

"And in such a fashion that he can't get free again," Trini said. "Not to mention we're going to have to come up with some kind of uniform, some kids came awfully close to finding out about our powers when I got mine."

"I wonder if we're going to be Avatars," Zack said, glancing over to Jason. "I mean, there had to be a reason we all felt the same call back to Angel Grove."

Jason nodded. "I guess we'll find out when we do," was all he said. "Personally, I'm very concerned over something that's supposed to be so powerful that the Power Rangers can't stop it, and five forces of nature can."

"Don't underestimate nature," Billy advised. "Come on, I think we should give you a little demonstration of just what we can do."

They were in the park, the three who were already Avatars had found that they were far more comfortable out of doors now than they were in. It seemed to be a side effect of their powers. Billy began, raising his hand and concentrating.

Nothing seemed to happen for a moment, then the wind began to rise, whipping up all around them in a frenzy. Billy twisted his hand, causing it to turn and wrap around him almost like a cloak, lifting him up a good ten feet off the ground. Another moment of concentration, and he bore his other form, that of the blue-eyed eagle. The wind ceased to blow as he lifted higher and higher into the air, circling over them and giving the great wild and lonely call of the hunting bird.

When he returned to the ground, resuming his human form, Zack and Jason were both in shock. "Whoa," the former Black Ranger whispered. "That's incredible!"

Trini grinned at the expression in his eyes. "You haven't seen anything yet. Watch this!" their two friends' jaws dropped when they saw fire erupt from Trini's hands, rushing in an inferno towards them.

"Trini!" Jason cried out. "What are you. . .. ," his voice trailed off as he realized the fire. . .was gone. "Trini?"

She grinned. "I'm the Avatar of Fire, remember? I can create, control, manipulate, and banish fire anywhere. And I can do it a bit gentler, too. Kim?"

The Avatar of Water laughed, gesturing to a small stream a few feet away. At her mental command, the water twirled up, splashing Zack and Jason at the same time. The two drenched boys winced, almost glaring at their friends. "Oh, come on, can't you think of some other way to show your powers without embarrassing us?" Jason laughed while he was trying to figure out whether or not to be upset or amused. Trini stepped closer, holding her hands out, palms facing them. A light, gentle warmth emanated from her, drying them both off in a few seconds. "Oh, that's nice!" he smiled. "Thanks, Trini!"

"That's the power of the elements," Trini smiled. "All we need is Earth and Spirit, then we can get down to business."

Kim nodded. "Taking on the Dark Avatar. I wonder who he really is."

"You mean, he's got a human identity too?" Zack's eyes widened; that hadn't been something he'd thought of before.

"It would be logical," Billy stated. "We Avatars," he gestured to himself, Trini, and Kim, have human bodies with the powers of nature. I would assume that he has a human body with the power of evil within him."

Jason nodded. "Yeah, you're probably right. I wonder if finding out who he is would help you guys fight him."

"Who can tell?" Trini shrugged. "But first we have to get completed."

"When will the other two be chosen?" Zack wondered. "And who are they going to be?"

"We don't know," Billy said. "Only the old Avatars know who and when the powers are to be passed on."

Zack leaned back against a tree, his fingers absently digging into the earth under him. I wonder what it's like to be an Avatar, he thought. Hope I can find out. would be so good to be needed again. ..

"Three of them," the Dark Angel hissed. "Three fully chosen and empowered Avatars. What is it going to take to defeat them? I try and grab the Avatar of Air before he gets his powers. . .the old one saves him! The Avatar of Fire sneaks up on me out of nowhere!! Then, the Avatar of Water, I almost manage to break the cycle with him, and then his successor shows up like a maniac and saves him! I've only got two chances left, Earth and Spirit, and if I can't stop them, then I'm going to have to deal with all five of them!"

He paced up and down in his cabin, deep in thought. He had to find some way to destroy them all! "Attacking the Avatar of Air before he got the power didn't work. Kidnapping the Avatar of Water only brought the successor chasing after us. There must be some way to block the transfer."

The Avatar paced even more, his mind fully immersed in some way to shatter the Avatar cycle and bring about the destruction of the universe. Then suddenly, he paused. A cold and evil smile lit his face. "Perfect," he nodded. "Simply perfect."

He walked outside, plunging his hand deeply into the earth at his feet, sensing it's power and life-force, sensing it's connection: one fading that was to the old Avatar, one strengthening that was to the new one. He closed his eyes, letting the face form in his mind of the one he sought. As it solidified and he could see who it was, he nodded.

"You are the one I seek, Zachary Taylor," he said softly. "It is you who shall break the chain of Avatars and bring my evil into full power."

The Dark Angel smiled to himself. All the other creatures of evil that had tried to conquer this world had failed to do so. He would not fail. How could he? He was the ultimate incarnation of evil, the living power of dark and twisted magic. . .

He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror, and stood there transfixed for a few moments. He shivered uncontrollably, staring into his own eyes, then jerked away. He could feel the body he used fighting against him, and growled. Be silent! I am the master of this form now!

No!! Let me go!! The host screamed mentally. Please! Let me go!!!

The Dark Avatar's eyes blazed with fury, then with a wave of his hand, the mirror shattered into a thousand pieces, and he was able to regain control of the body. He shook his head, growling to himself. "I am the master of this form," he declared. "I and no other. And when I have destroyed the other Avatars, the soul that dwells within this body shall be gone forever."

In a flash of dark fire, the Avatar of Evil was gone.

The earth felt good under Zack's fingers, cool and alive and growing in his hands. He could hardly pay any attention to anything that was going on with the others as they talked, the earth took up all his attention and thought.

"Zack," the voice was none of his friends', it just came to his ears. "Zack, come to me."

He looked up, and saw a shadowed figure standing a short distance from him. The figure beckoned to him urgently. "Come, my successor," the words breathed into his ear. "Come. It's time at last."

Zack didn't ask questions, he just leaped to his feet and started towards the strange figure. He could feel something pulling him there, but it didn't feel evil, it felt. . .pure. .like the earth beneath his feet. As he practically ran over to the figure, he felt eagerness pulsing in his veins like blood; he was more than ready for this.

Then he stopped. He stared ahead of him, shaking his head in confusion. "What's going on here?" he practically growled. "Two of you?"

Indeed, two figures, identical in every respect, stood before him. One of them glared at the other. "Depart this place, Dark Avatar!" he declared. "Do not attempt to deceive my successor!"

"You lie!" the other hissed. "You are the Dark Avatar, you seek to trick him into coming to you before I can give him the powers that are his!"

Zack shook his head. "Whoa, whoa, what's going on here?" he turned as he felt more than saw three figures coming behind him. Trini, Kim, and Billy were all there, each glowing a different shade: Trini red, Kim blue, and Billy pure white. All three of them looked furious as they drew up next to him. "Guys? Care to explain this?"

Billy glared from one of the strangers to the other. "One of them is the Dark Avatar, Zack," he said. Kim nodded.

"The other's the Avatar of Earth, and you're to take on his power," she said. "But you're going to have to choose which of them you go to. If you pick the right one, then everything'll be okay. If you pick the wrong one. .."

Trini continued where Kim left off, "Then you'll be destroyed by the Dark Avatar's power. It's up to you what you do, Zack. We're just here to keep the Dark one off you if you make the right choice."

Zack nodded, turning to the two before him. "Okay, so one of you is the bad guy?" he asked. They both nodded silently, each pointing to the other. Zack frowned, deep in thought already.

The Dark Avatar chuckled mentally. The fool will choose me. Humans judge by appearances, and there is no way he will choose the true Avatar of Earth by mere sight. It can't be done.

The Earth Avatar simply gazed at Zack quietly. The knowledge is in your heart, my successor. I have faith in you. You will know what to do.

Zack shifted nervously, staring at each of them in turn. Something told him if he even made a step towards one, that would count as his choice. Avatar of Earth. Earth. ... earth. ...

He closed his eyes and dropped to one knee, plunging a hand into the earth as he did so. Clean. ..pure. . ..tainted. ..evil. . .he smiled, then opened his eyes, turning to one of the Avatars. "You are the Dark Avatar," he said quietly, then looked to the other. "You are the true Avatar of Earth."

The one he had called the Dark Avatar growled. "How? You don't have the power! You're not capable of detecting evil through the earth!"

Zack smiled as he walked to the true Avatar. "There's a lot you don't know, Darkie. Rent a brain cell."

The Dark Avatar growled, raising a hand glowing with power. "You will perish, Earth Avatar!" but before he could move, the other three leaped in between him and Zack.

"No way!" they chorused. "Zack, go on, do what you have to do!"

As they tangled with the epitome of evil, Zack found himself in front of the Earth Avatar, a quiet, gentle woman with chocolate brown eyes that sparkled with an inner strength. He bowed gently. "Ummm. ..Avatar?"

"Yes, Zachary," she smiled. "But not for much longer. Do you accept the power of the Earth and all that being it's Avatar means?"

"I do," he replied simply. "I don't know everything that's being asked of me, but I don't mind. This is what I'm meant to do."

With no more ceremony than that, she took his hand and he felt a flash of pure strength enter him, the solidity of the planet itself, the eternal strength of it's existence. He shivered for a moment, then smiled. "Thank you," he said. "Thank you for everything."

She smiled back at him. "You are most welcome, Zachary. You will protect and serve the earth well as it's avatar, I have no doubt.

"I'm glad," he smiled, then turned to see the Dark Avatar leaving in a flash of black flames. "Looks like I'll have my turn against him later."

"Indeed," his predecessor nodded. "When all the Avatars are gathered together, then all of them will have their chance." she faded away, her voice only a faint whisper in his mind with her farewell words. . .be strong, Zachary. strong. . .

The other Avatars looked at him, smiling. Kim stepped over to him and put a hand on his shoulder. "Welcome," was all she said, but it meant everything to him. They were almost complete. The four of them stood in a circle, just gazing at each other. They smiled.

"Four out of five," Trini said. "And then when we're complete. .."

"We kick Dark Avatar butt!" Zack grinned. He stopped for a moment. "Umm. ..what would've happened if I'd picked the wrong one?"

Billy shrugged. "The Dark Avatar probably would've ripped your heart out and handed it to you on a plate."

Zack gulped. "Ouch. Oh."

The End... for now